violating federal housing laws and trying to drive low-income and minority residents from the city.

The owners of the Dunwoody Glen and LaCota apartments claim city officials used enforcement of housing codes to harass the apartment owners and tried to force them to sell or close the properties, which provide housing for African Americans and Latinos.

The lawsuit claims the city’s actions were “irrational and … based upon unwarranted fear and prejudice.” The lawsuit, submitted by lawyers Kathryn M. Zickert and J. Harrison Anthony, asks that the court order the city to stop prohibiting affordable housing and instead to encourage it and to stop the city’s harassment of the apartment owners.

The apartment owners said the city in 2011 wanted to use proceeds from a bond referendum to buy the apartments in order to tear them down and replace them with a sports complex. Voters did not approve the bonds, so the deal fell through.

The apartment owners claim the city’s efforts to buy and raze the apartments were motivated by a desire to eliminate apartments in Dunwoody, to remove the 560 children in the apartments from Dunwoody schools and to move members of minorities out of the city.

The lawsuit names the city and Community Development Director Steve Dush as defendants. Spokesman Bob Mullen said the city and Dush had no comment on pending litigation.

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.